The Supreme Court today refused to stay an environment ministry notification that allowed the culling of nilgais, wild boars in Bihar and Uttarakhand and monkeys in Himachal Pradesh.
A bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and A M Khaniwilkar however asked the animal rights organisations to make representations before the Centre regarding three notifications declaring Nilgais, monkeys and wild boars as vermins and said the petition will be taken up for hearing on July 15. Animal Welfare Board of India had termed the notification as an “arbitrary decision”.
Vermins are animals harmful to crops or carry a disease.The board, which is an statutory advisory body on animal welfare laws and promotes animal welfare in India, questioned the notifications issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change declaring these animals as vermins for one year in the states of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
“The arbitrariness is there. We have seen the video. There has to be a basis. How can the Ministry do this? There has to be compassion towards animals”, the lawyer appearing for the board told a vacation bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and A M Khanwilkar.
However, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said the board has not challenged these notifications.The bench said it would hear the contentions of the board when the main matter is heard.
The bench, which refused to issue notice on the petitions, asked the Centre to consider the representations within two weeks and take appropriate steps as required.
During the hearing, the bench posed several queries to the petitioners on whether these notifications specifically talk about forest areas. “Prohibition (on hunting) will apply to forest area or animal habitat and not outside that. Absolute prohibition applies to animal habitat only. You cannot hunt them in their home. Suppose they are found outside their habitat, then how to deal with it”, the bench asked.
Responding to the query, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for one of the petitioners, referred to killing of Nilgais in Bihar and said there are scientific ways to deal with such situations. Wild animals cannot be killed like this. The first notification issued by the Ministry dated December 1, 2015, declared Nilgai and wild boar as vermin in some districts of Bihar for one year.
The second notification dated February 3 this year declared wild boar as vermin in some districts of Uttarakhand for a period of one year, while the third notification, issued on May 24 declared rhesus macaque (monkey) to be vermin in some districts of Himachal Pradesh.
Last Week the vacation Bench of the Supreme Court of India had agreed to examine the constitutional Validity of S.62 of Wild Life Protection Act 1972 which empowers the Central Government to declare any wild animal to be a vermin and empowers the Central Government to remove any wild animal from the protection of the Act.
O R D E RList the matters on 15.07.2016 before the appropriate Bench.
Mr. Ranjit Kumar, learned Solicitor General has made a statement that the impugned notifications are applicable only outside the forest area, which is also mentioned in the notifications. Learned senior counsel appearing for the petitioners state that they will be making representation before concerned authorities for consideration putting forth their suggestions and also annexing study, if any. If such a representation is made, learned Solicitor General assures the Court that the same will be looked into in accordance with law expeditiously and as far as possible within two weeks from the date of making of the representation by the petitioners.